Please see Holiday Information Sheet for this holidays individual departures itinerary (located under View Departures & Book tab)
Our journey begins once we arrive into Vancouver in the late afternoon and transfer to our hotel.
Today we explore the exciting city of Vancouver. Starting with the vibrant harbour area we will visit the verdant Stanley Park, with its colourful totem poles, take a ferry to Granville Island and have lunch in this popular market area, and finish off walking through Chinatown and Gastown.
The whole day including stops will take between 7 and 8 hours.
After breakfast we take our first ferry transfer from Vancouver by coach and ferry to the outdoor paradise that is Vancouver Island ready to enjoy an introductory walk around Victoria, the islands capital. There will be a few minutes walking at either end of the transfer to meet the coach and get to the hotel.
Today we’ll walk part of the famous Galloping Goose trail part of the Trans Canada trail. Our path will take us past picturesque lakes and woodland which is accurately named after the gawky and noisy rail cars that used to travel along it.
Our final day on Vancouver Island is dedicated to the one thing you must do while in Canada - whale watching! The excursion takes around 3-4 hours on a semi covered cruiser giving us the opportunity to spot opportunity to view killer whales and humpback whales in the wild as well as an assortment of seabirds and other species of marine wildlife with a specialist guide on board. For the rest of the day take some time to relax or explore some more of this charming little capital.
As we make way onto the ferry, we are destined for the mainland again and Tsawwassen where our coach will take us through Hope and Merit on route to Kamloops along the infamous (in winter) but stunningly beautiful Coquihalla highway. Our drive today will take approximately 4 hours without stops.
Kamloops in contrast to its neighbouring mountainous alpine areas is very different. Being largely dessert, this Trans Canada Railway junction town offers great walking in dessert land that feels like you could be in the American Midwest.
Today we head out of British Columbia and into Alberta as we head for Jasper. The views out the window will constantly change and we will have chances to stretch our legs as we make our 4.5hr journey. Along the way we will stop at Clearwater where there is a visitor centre and nearby an area in September to watch the spawning areas of Sockeye and Chinook salmon. We pass the highest mountain in the Rockies, Mount Robson, before heading into Alberta and adjusting our watches forward an hour. On arrival take some time to yourselves to see what Jasper has to offer.
On our first day in Jasper we explore a popular area for walking, biking and horse riding close to the town. We walk up onto a sandy terrace left after the ice age, with views over the Athabasca River. After an ascent onto a rocky viewpoint we get a view of the whole valley, town, and lakes. We then descend to Pyramid Lake and picnic on a small island, just as visitors have done since the railway first arrived in Jasper in 1911. Although this walk is very popular it is also one of the longest on our journey through the Rockies - but don’t worry, there are short-cuts.
23.9km, 350m Ascent/Descent, 7.5 – 8 hours.
The Valley of the Five Lakes is another ice-age remnant of ridges, rolling hills and lakes. This attractive route goes through forests passing five lakes but keep an eye out for the only emerald green lake on our tour! As we approach Jasper the route reaches a viewpoint over the Athabasca River and the town. To get back into town we must cross the railway. Luckily there is an underpass as some of the long freight trains can take a quarter of an hour to pass by!!
15.8km, 300m Ascent/Descent, 5.5 - 6 hours.
There are many interesting locations to visit near Jasper and during the tour we will include one or two of them depending on the weather.
Maligne Lake and Canyon- Malign Lake is a scenic gem, backed by lofty mountains. From the lake we walk to the summit of Bald Hills, where the view is stunning as we have got above the tree-line.
11.8km 480m Ascent/Descent 4 hours
Those not wanting to do this walk can take a 1.5 hour cruise on the lake to Spirit Island (cost not included). On the way back, we stop to do a short walk down a dramatic gorge which the Malign River has carved through limestone rock.
The Whistlers and Edith Cavell Meadows - The Whistlers, Jasper’s local mountain, tops out at 2466m and gives an exciting summit day walk with marmots keeping a keen eye on us. We take the cable car (Jasper SkyTram) to 2250m and then we make our way from the cable car station to the summit.
4km, 200m Ascent/Descent, 1.5 hours
Your afternoon can be spent spending extra time at the top of the Whistlers or your leader can do another shorter walk with those wanting to. The Whistlers is often combined with the Edith Cavell Meadows walk. This is short but climbs up from 1700m to 2100m to give stunning views of the Angel glacier and lake.
4km 400m Ascent/Descent 2.5 hours
It is now time to head to our final centre of Banff. Our route will be along the Icefields Parkway one of the classic Canadian road journeys with so much to see along the route. Stop options can include the Athabasca Falls, the Columbia glacier, a 2 hour walk up to Parker Ridge to view the North Saskatchewan glacier, Peyto Lake and Lake Louise. Lake Louise is justly famous for the view, but you will have to share it with lots of other tourists, mostly taking selfies!
Our first full day in Banff will be spent exploring the Hoodoos and Tunnel Mountain. Although today’s walk may have a slightly suburban feel initially, this disappears as we follow the banks of the Bow River where in September it is likely you will see or hear male Elk bugling. What is a Hoodoo we hear you say? They are the rock spires or fairy chimneys as the locals call them. After a picnic overlooking the hoodoos we return to the fringe of Banff and go up Tunnel Mountain. The views from Tunnel Mountain are tremendous, with the sheer faces of the peaks encircling Banff framing the valley of the Bow River and distant Lake Minnewanka. Look out for the irony in the name Tunnel Mountain!
16.2km, 300m Ascent/Descent, 6 – 6.5 hours
Today we finish at the top of the grade as we head for Sulphur Mountain! There is a well graded but steep zigzag path to the top of the gondola, where a well-earned coffee can be had. Those who don’t want to walk up can use the gondola to whisk you to the top. Here it is possible to do a short but dramatic walk along the ridge to a viewpoint in one direction, and then to follow the main tourist board-walk to multiple viewpoints and the old cosmic ray station on the highest point (Sanson’s Peak 2305m). The descent is one an old access road, a gravel track that descends gently to the valley. The return route passes the Cave and Basin site, the original hot springs discovered in Banff, and the origin of National Parks in Canada.
17.5km, 842m Ascent / 970m Descent, 6.5 hours
Please note that the cable car is not included in the local transport costs on this holiday. The return cost for the cable car is around $65. If you decide to take the cable car down this will be half price but you cannot get a one-way ticket up you will have to buy a return should you wish to ride up and walk down.
The late flight home means that there is plenty of free time in Banff. There are several short trails to follow, museums to visit and of course plenty of shops for those last-minute souvenirs for loved ones. It is even possible to hire canoes for a trip up the Bow River. We then travel by road to Calgary Airport for the return overnight flight to London.
Arrive back in the UK.